Connolly wants to block Metrorail cars from China

Metro 7000 series carsPhoto credit: WMATA

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) today joined Reps. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Anthony Brown (D-MD) want to be sure Metro does not buy any new rail cars from China.

Three today sent a letter to House appropriators requesting language in the fiscal year 2020 transportation appropriations bill that would make grants to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) contingent upon Metro’s certification that it will not award any contract or subcontract for railcars to state-owned corporations.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representatives Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Donald Beyer (D-VA), John Sarbanes (D-MD), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) were also signatories of the letter.

“The security of public transit in the nation’s capital must be a top priority,” Norton said. “China is not making these railcars so cheaply out of the goodness of their hearts. Until we have irrefutable evidence, we must not turn a blind eye to the clear incentive China has to monitor our capital and undermine our security.”

“Serious concerns have been raised about the purchase of Metro railcars that could pose a safety risk to passengers and a security risk to the system,” Connolly said. “The House delegation is advocating that Congress act decisively to discourage such purchases through the most immediate and effective manner at our disposal – the appropriations process. WMATA has asked for guidance from Congress on this matter, and this effort should serve as a clear and unequivocal message – do not sacrifice safety to save a dime.”

“As the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority procures its 8000-series rail cars, it must address concerns that could impact our long-term national and economic security,” Brown said. “The company that is awarded the contract will have access to the tunnels and underground infrastructure in Washington, DC – including at the Pentagon, State Department and the US Capitol, and the new train cars could be vulnerable to malicious software, surveillance, and sabotage. WMATA must prioritize security over any short-term cost savings.”

In their letter the Members wrote:

“Critical infrastructure systems around the country have been increasingly targeted in recent years as part of coordinated hacking attempts and other forms of interference, often carried out by, or at the direction of, foreign governments. In the transportation sector, there has been increased interest from some of these same foreign governments, acting through state-owned intermediaries, to participate in state and local procurements, including those to manufacture and assemble railcars for transit agencies around the country. While other jurisdictions have welcomed this investment, as Metro moves forward with its procurement process for the 8000-series railcar, we have serious concerns about similar activity in the National Capital Region, particularly when it could involve foreign governments that have sought to undermine our country’s economic competitiveness and national security.”